BMDO’s first solo exhibition, ‘High Hopes’, questions the cross-section of art and everyday materials. Exploring the nuances that furniture and objects carry, ‘High Hopes’ offers a timely re-examination of object status.
BMDO is the design practice of Melbourne-based Fletcher Barns and Los Angeles-based James L. Marshall. Their combined conceptual basis is both playful and sociocultural, informed by their respective backgrounds in industrial design and fine art. BMDO’s creative thinking and making blend traditional and future-oriented aesthetics to create objects that pay close attention to material, detail and, most importantly, context.
This process is clear in BMDO’s latest exhibition. Questioning the notion of furniture and objects as symbols of status, class and wealth, ‘High Hopes’ delves into the inherent meaning embedded in furniture and the distinctions between high and low materials. In this sense, ‘High Hopes’ is a contemporary take on the concept of Arte Povera – exploring new materials as art in a new, bold way.
Throughout the exhibition, each piece is reimagined; abandoned car parts become functional furniture pieces, while rubbish bins become art and hotel chairs are softened into the fabric of a home. Therefore, one can realise the many meanings and uses an object can hold. For example, a carpet tapestry suspended on a hinged stainless-steel wing with a cast bronze clap in Multifunction Wall Object becomes a versatile piece that simultaneously functions as a tapestry, curtain, room divider and mirror.
Notable items on display include Chair 9, a machined aluminium form set alongside patterned carpet that plays on the ideas of new and old by echoing the intricate tapestries of medieval lore. The Dipper Table is a collaboration with craftsperson Daniel Poole, transforming American white ash into something celestial, while the The Magna and Econo Pendant sees metalsmith Ned Vernon’s studio V.Brokkr, together with BMDO, reimagine Mitsubishi Magna and Econovan parts found in a scrap yard into hand-hammered bronze light.
While playful and refreshing, ‘High Hopes’ is very conceptual – grounded in the questioning of our value systems when it comes to status and materialism. The exhibition will take place at Oigall Projects in Fitzroy from Thursday, 8 February until Saturday, 2 March 2024.